“DANGER! This rubber band gun … is capable of inflicting 1st and 2nd degree welts, contusions, and bruises on the supple flesh of its targets,” reads the packaging on the Rubber Bandit. “For the lady or gentleman that knows better than to grow up.”
Its creator, 21-year-old Andy Mangold, never did learn. He built his first rubber band gun in middle school out in the garage of his Pennsylvania home. “I made an arsenal of them that included a Gatling that could fire 40 rubber bands as fast as you could turn the crank. You had to reload for like 20 minutes, but it was worth it for that moment of glory.”
“When he shot the Gatling, everyone took cover,” says Andy’s mom, Linda. Opposed to buying toy guns, she couldn’t really complain once he started making his own. “The way I looked at it was at least he had to use creativity.”
Mangold shot one too many bands at his sister, though, and was forced into early retirement.
But Mangold’s boyhood playtime would later become his silver bullet. Now a respectable intern at Shaw Jelveh Design in Baltimore and a junior at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) majoring in graphic design with a concentration in book arts, Mangold knew just what to do when a class assignment called on students to design, manufacture, and package a toy from scratch. His sure-fire secret weapon: the good ol’ rubber band gun.
After building a plywood dummy, he cut and carved the final product from exotic curly maple and bloodwood. Without using springs, instead just the forces of the rubber bands and wooden gears, his latest gun holds five bands and fires one at a time without having to reload, and it comes with interchangeable barrels (longer ones shoot harder). The packaging incorporates bookboard and newsprint for a vintage, faded look.
His sister knows he’s back at it. “She saw it,” Mangold says. “It brought back some nightmares. She has a little post-traumatic stress.”
The Rubber Bandit: andymangold.com/the-rubber-bandit